bug bites

The Top 8 Essential Oils for Bug Bites

The Top 8 Essential Oils for Bug Bites

Overview

Bug bites and bee stings are painful realities of the summer season. When insects sting, they inject their venom or saliva into our skin, which bug bitesactivates the immune system and triggers local inflammation. This causes redness, formation of bumps, irritation, itching, and pain.

Fortunately, there is a broad spectrum of essential oils that can help neutralize the venom of insects and soothe inflammation at the site. Moreover, diffusing them around your home also comes with a side benefit, as most essential oils are well-known insect repellents and can effectively prevent a bug bite.

Which essential oils are good for soothing bug bites

1. Lavender

Even before the advent of essential oils, a paste made from lavender flowers was commonly used to soothe a wide range of bug bites. Several volatile compounds are found in lavender flowers, of which linalool and linalyl acetate are most beneficial for therapeutic purposes. Lavender oil contains these very compounds in concentrated amounts, which makes them highly potent for soothing pain and irritations. In a 2021 study, lavender reduced pain and stabilized vital signs in children with burns. Studies have suggested that due to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, aromatherapy with lavender oil can be effective in reducing acute pain from stinging bug bites.

2. Chamomile

Chamomile has emollient and soothing properties that can help reduce itching and irritation from insect bites. Historically used for its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving abilities, it calms allergic responses like bumps and promotes faster healing of the affected skin. While both types of chamomile oils are helpful in soothing bug bites, German chamomile is preferred for its higher chamazulene content. Chamomile is very gentle and can safely be used on children above eight years of age; however, be sure to dilute it first and use a slightly lower concentration.

3. Ylang Ylang

Extracted from its enchanting star-shaped flowers, Ylang Ylang oil has calming, relaxing, moisturizing, wound-healing, and antiseptic properties. Its anti-inflammatory and mood-lifting effects are known to help in reducing various kinds of pain. Using 1-2 drops directly on insect stings can quickly soothe redness, itching, irritations, swelling, and pain. If you have sensitive skin, avoid using Ylang Ylang directly on the skin. Rather, dilute 1-2 drops with an equal amount of olive oil and apply with the help of a cotton ball.

4. Tea Tree

Full of antifungal and antibacterial properties, tea tree oil can help calm the itching and swelling of insect bites. It is most helpful for soothing bites that cause more itching than pain. While it may not be very effective in relieving wasp and bee stings, it can quickly soothe irritations caused by mosquitoes, spiders, ants, and ticks. Its ability to kill germs also helps protect the temporarily swollen skin against infections. Please note that tea tree oil is very strong, and it can be irritating if applied directly to the skin.

O2ZAP

5. Sweet basil

 

Long valued in traditional medicines, sweet basil oil is deeply nourishing and calming for the skin. In some cultures, basil has been used as first aid for insect bites and snake bites. Used topically on the skin, it soothes swelling and redness at the site of pain and reduces stinging. According to a 2017 study, sweet basil oil is a powerhouse of antioxidants and has excellent anti-inflammatory properties. It is considered particularly useful against painful wasp and bee stings. Basil also helps disinfect the skin and promotes wound healing.

6. Patchouli

Highly prized for its soulful aroma and centering effect on the mind, patchouli oil has antifungal, antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-allergic, and emollient properties. When used on bug bites, it can relieve itching and irritation almost instantly. Research suggests that its ability to soothe inflammation may also help in relieving pain. Diffusing patchouli around your home further helps in keeping various species of insects at bay. Studies have shown patchouli to be an eco-friendly repellent and insecticide for mosquitoes, urban ants, and house flies.

7. Camphor oil

Camphor is an age-old remedy to soothe irritations and itchiness from bug bites. Its tingling warmth overpowers the itching sensation, calms swellings and redness, and improves the overall appearance of the skin. However, try to avoid camphor for burning pain, as it may worsen the condition in some people. Camphor is most effective against bug bites that itch more than they hurt.

8. Peppermint

Peppermint contains menthol that generates a cooling sensation when applied to the skin, reducing pain and itching from bug bites. Research has shown that peppermint oil has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that can help block pain signals. As a side benefit, peppermint also discourages insects from paying a visit to your home. Its powerful minty aroma is well-known to repel mosquitoes, flying ants, wasps, bees, ticks, and roaches.

How to use essential oils for relieving pain and itching from bug bites

Topical applicationbug bites

Mix 1-2 drops of essential oil with an equal amount of olive or almond oil. Apply on the affected area with the help of a cotton ball. Do not rub the skin, as it may cause further irritation.

In combination with skincare products

Mix 1-2 drops of essential oils with a teaspoon of aloe vera gel, honey, shea butter, or your regular moisturizer. Apply on the bug bites to get quick relief from pain and discomfort.

Safety and limitations of using essential oils

Some essential oils can be stronger than others and using them in higher concentrations can worsen irritations. Tea tree, camphor, and peppermint fall into this category.

Final thoughts

Due to their soothing and analgesic properties, essential oils can help reduce various inflammatory responses from bug bites. While certain oils are more effective in dealing with pain than others, some may be more helpful for relieving itch and irritation. Awareness, therefore, is the key to using them safely and effectively.

To Your Health!

References

  1. Lakhan, S. E., Sheafer, H., & Tepper, D. (2016). The Effectiveness of Aromatherapy in Reducing Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Pain research and treatment, 2016, 8158693. https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/8158693
  2. Ardahan Akgül, Esra & Karakul, Atiye & Altın, Asiye & Doğan, Pınar & Hoşgör, Münevver & Oral, Akgün. (2021). Effectiveness of lavender inhalation aromatherapy on pain level and vital signs in children with burns: a randomized controlled trial. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 60. 102758. 10.1016/j.ctim.2021.102758. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2021.102758
  3. Li, H., Ge, Y., Luo, Z., Zhou, Y., Zhang, X., Zhang, J., & Fu, Q. (2017). Evaluation of the chemical composition, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of distillate and residue fractions of sweet basil essential oil. Journal of food science and technology, 54(7), 1882–1890. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13197-017-2620-x
  4. Xian, Y. F., Li, Y. C., Ip, S. P., Lin, Z. X., Lai, X. P., & Su, Z. R. (2011). Anti-inflammatory effect of patchouli alcohol isolated from Pogostemonis Herba in LPS-stimulated RAW264.7 macrophages. Experimental and therapeutic medicine, 2(3), 545–550. https://doi.org/10.3892/etm.2011.233
  5. Norris, E. J., Gross, A. D., Dunphy, B. M., Bessette, S., Bartholomay, L., & Coats, J. R. (2015). Comparison of the Insecticidal Characteristics of Commercially Available Plant Essential Oils Against Aedes aegypti and Anopheles gambiae (Diptera: Culicidae). Journal of medical entomology, 52(5), 993–1002. https://doi.org/10.1093/jme/tjv090
  6. Albuquerque, E. L., Lima, J. K., Souza, F. H., Silva, I. M., Santos, A. A., Araújo, A. P., Blank, A. F., Lima, R. N., Alves, P. B., & Bacci, L. (2013). Insecticidal and repellence activity of the essential oil of Pogostemon cablin against urban ants species. Acta tropica, 127(3), 181–186. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actatropica.2013.04.011
  7. Pavela R. (2008). Insecticidal properties of several essential oils on the house fly (Musca domestica L.). Phytotherapy research: PTR, 22(2), 274–278. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.2300
  8. Shrivastava, Alankar. (2009). A REVIEW ON PEPPERMINT OIL. Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical and Clinical Research. 2. 27-33. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/237842903_A_REVIEW_ON_PEPPERMINT_OIL